Wednesday, 6 April 2016

HARDCORE HENRY - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Russian Vid-game-as-movie delivers the gore

Hardcore Henry (2015)
Dir. Illya Naishuller
Prd. Timur Bekmambetov
Starring: Haley Bennet, Sharlto Copley, Danila Kozlovsky,
Tim Roth, Andrey Dementiev, Dasha Charusha

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Though it's nowhere near as funny, original, audacious and intelligent as Zachary Ramelan's Dead Rush, the no-budget first person POV Canadian zombie horror feature, which had its premiere at the 2016 Canadian Film Festival in Toronto, Russkie musician-turned-writer-director Illya Naishuller still manages to serve up some wildly entertaining first-person POV ultra-gore with Hardcore Henry (which premiered in TIFF's 2015 Midnight Madness series and which, is now theatrically unspooling across North America).

Working with producer Timur Bekmambetov (a great producer, but woeful director), the whole affair is a goofily stupid non-stop amusement park ride (which would definitely make for a fine shooter game) and will especially appeal to girlfriend-bereft 20-45-year-old nerd fan-boys living in their parents' basements.

Without wasting too much time, the picture begins with Henry waking up in a sterile white lab to find his babe-o-licious scientist wifelet (Haley Bennet) putting finishing touches to his Robocop-like cyber-body. Alas, she doesn't quite get around to fitting our hapless hero with a voice.

At this point, the lab is almost immediately besieged by a passel of killer Russkies attempting to snatch Henry for a crazed albino (Danila Kozlovsky), bent upon the nefarious goal of (what else?) world wide domination. Henry is rescued by a quipping Brit-accented spy (Sharlto Copley) who keeps our hero alive to rescue babe-wifey from the clutches of the mad albino.

That's pretty much the plot, save for a couple of obvious and predictable twists you'll sniff out almost from the beginning of the movie. No biggie, really. What drives this nutzoid picture is the non-stop first-person POV action as Henry kills hundreds of Russkie henchmen. Aside from the admittedly enjoyable and often hilarious blood splashing violence, the best reason to see the movie is the nuttily engaging performance of Copley. His character keeps getting blown to bits and he's perpetually resurrected in different guises (he even delivers a first-rate musical number, expertly crooning Cole Porter's "I've Got You Under My Skin".)

Add a trio of superb elements to the mix: a cool Tim Roth cameo, a first-rate propulsive music score by Dasha Charusha and a genuinely superb action set-piece in a Moscow brothel (replete with a seemingly endless supply of nude Russkie babes, many of whom eventually cradle firearms which they fire ever-so sexily).

Naishuller also offers a ludicrous number of nods, homages and references to classic and contemporary actioners, many of which will offer fan-boys something to do if they get bored/exhausted with the proceedings (and, no doubt, deliver far more masturbation fantasies than the aforementioned Slavic hookers). The first-time Russkie director even features a prominently displayed poster of Robert Montgomery's 1947 POV grandaddy The Lady in the Lake which will give major movie geeks mega-hard-ons.

Ultimately, this is what a movie like Hardcore Henry is all about: Hardcore hard-ons for fan-boy losers. But hey, the fellas deserve some solid meat to beat and I will not deny them their meagre pleasures. You might even enjoy it, too.

It's fun for the whole family.


Hardcore Henry is in wide theatrical release via VVS Films.